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'Showering' the industry with relationship advice

Saturday, April 1, 2006 - 01:00

I just got out of the shower where I was contemplating the most fundamental elements of our relationship. I know that may sound a bit odd, but it’s the truth. I think about lots of important “stuff” in the bathroom, and I do some of my best thinking in the shower. I think most men do.

It makes sense if you really think about it. Unless you live by yourself, the bathroom provides the ultimate excuse for privacy. Consequently, it is one of the few places any of us can really be sure we will remain undisturbed…at least until someone figures out that you’ve gone missing for a few hours. It makes a perfect “reading room” if you don’t mind the humidity, and it is unlikely anyone will seek to share that space with you unless they are certain they know what you’re up to in there.

I take a shower just before I head off to bed, which means I’ve had the whole day to accumulate information and experiences and the shower is a perfect place to sort them out. In my case, that generally means about 17 or 18 hours worth of stuff. This evening’s shower was all about relationships: what it is that draws us together, what it is that drives us apart.

I inspect, test, diagnose, maintain and repair automobiles and trucks for a living. Often, that requires the replacement of parts: parts that are worn out, even parts that are sometimes found to be broken. You sell parts.

My goal is to acquire the best quality parts I can in a timely fashion and at the lowest possible cost to help ensure a profit capable of sustaining my business. Your goal is to have me buy the parts I need from you, hopefully at a price that will guarantee you a profit.

But is that enough and does it really constitute a relationship? After all, isn’t your goal to have me buy all the parts I buy from you, or at least most of them? Isn’t the goal to have me buy most of the stuff I buy from you…almost exclusively?

How do you do that and why should I cooperate?

Do you buy my business or does it make more sense to earn it? Do you compromise your ability to make a profit by buying that business with discounts, premiums, earn-backs, promotions or other incentives? Or, do you earn it with the best possible products at the lowest possible prices, delivered where and when they are needed?

If you ask me, one provides a short-term solution to a long-term problem, while the other provides the foundation for sustainable growth and long-term success.

In the end, however, it really isn’t about what I think…it should be, and for some jobbers and warehouses, it is. But, for the majority of jobber stores and warehouse organizations out there, it’s all about what you think. More to the point, it’s all about what you do.

Will you sacrifice the future for short-term gains in the present? Or, will you invest in that future by forging intimate, long-term, synergistic relationships with your service dealers here in the present?

Not sure? Why don’t you head for the bathroom, take a shower and think about it. I did.

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